Ashoka University Students Advocate for Caste Census to Ensure Inclusivity in Anti-Discrimination Cell

Anti discrimination cell would be an independent body which the students have been demanding to counter various forms of discrimination at campus.
Ashoka University Students Advocate for Caste Census to Ensure Inclusivity in Anti-Discrimination Cell

Sonipat, Haryana- In a significant development at Ashoka University, the Social Justice Forum, comprising students advocating for the rights of Scheduled Caste, Muslim, Scheduled Tribe, Kashmiri Muslim, and other ethnic minority groups, has initiated an online petition pressing for a comprehensive caste census. The university has more than 2000 students.

The forum had previously demanded for an Anti discrimination cell which has been agreed upon by the Vice Chancellor who announced that the cell would be there by next semester. Anti discrimination cell would be an independent body which the students have been demanding to counter various forms of discrimination at campus.

The Vice Chancellor responded to the forum's demand by affirming the creation of an Equal Opportunity Cell to address cases of discrimination on campus. However, the Social Justice Forum believes that a mere establishment of a cell is insufficient and emphasizes the need for the university to actively engage with the diverse needs of various groups.

The VC's response outlined that these committees would be operational early in the next semester, with elected student representatives playing a crucial role in their composition. Since the student representatives will be elected, so the forum is problematising idea of 'free and fair election' by asking for caste census of students and employees.

The forum insists on a comprehensive approach, calling for a caste census covering all students and employees on campus. They view this as a fundamental first step towards addressing the specific needs of different groups and rectifying any shortcomings in diversity initiatives.

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Founded by individuals from the YIF batch of 2023, the Social Justice Forum had garnered over 200 signatures for the anti discrimination cell petition, from both alumni and current students. Now the objective is to ensure a genuinely equitable and representative foundation for the proposed Anti-Discrimination Cell.

In a candid conversation with the Mooknayak, students' representative at Ashoka University spoke about instances of discrimination on campus, bringing attention to a separate counter for Jain and Vegan food, which some argue may inadvertently create divisions among students based on dietary choices.

Speaking anonymously, students expressed concerns about the potential stigmatization of those who consume meat, as the existence of a separate food counter could contribute to a sense of hierarchy or judgment among peers. The issue has prompted discussions about fostering a more inclusive campus environment that respects diverse dietary preferences without inadvertently fostering discrimination.

Students shared that instances of discrimination, including casteist slurs have been experienced by individuals, further raising concerns about the need for a more inclusive campus environment. Despite assurances that an Anti-Discrimination Cell will be established by the next semester, some students express reservations about the current mechanism for filing complaints. As of now, individuals are encouraged to write to the Registrar, but concerns about potential biases have led to the demand for an independent committee or cell to address discrimination within the university.

As the demand for an Anti-Discrimination Cell gains momentum, the Vice Chancellor's assurance that elected student representatives will play a role in its composition sparked further debate. The Social Justice Forum, advocating for the rights of marginalized groups, has raised questions about the concept of 'free and fair elections' within the university.

In a move that challenges the election process, the forum is actively pushing for a caste census of both students and employees. This demand, supported by150 signatures so far, seeks to address the specific needs of different groups and ensure a more nuanced understanding of representation within the university. The caste census proposal aims to move beyond token gestures, emphasizing the importance of accurate data to inform comprehensive diversity initiatives.

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